Croats accused of child trafficking in Zambia released on bail

Croats accused of child trafficking in Zambia released on bail

Croats accused of child trafficking in Zambia released on bail

NDOLA, Zambia (AP) — A Zambian magistrate on Thursday granted bail to eight Croatian nationals accused of child trafficking.

Magistrate David Makalicha in Ndola, in the mineral-rich Copperbelt province, said the eight would each have to post bail of 20,000 kwacha (about $1,000) and hand over their passports to the court.

The eight were named Damir Magic, 44, Nadica Magic, 45, Zoran Subosic, 52, Azra Imamovic Subosic, 41, Ladislav Persic, 42, Aleksandra Persic, 40, Noah Kraljevic, 45, and Ivona Kraljevic , 46 years. appeared in court on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to child trafficking charges.

They are defended by a legal aid lawyer, Kelvin Silwimba. In the charges before the court, the Croats are accused of trying to smuggle four children named late last year to Zambia “for the purpose of exploitation”.

Media in Croatia had reported that the Croatian detainees were four couples and they included Zoran Subosic, a guitarist from the well-known band Hladno Pivo, or Cold Beer.

Witnesses on Thursday included an immigration officer and a guesthouse manager.

Mercy Phiri, an immigration officer at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, said she had been told that some Croats were planning to leave the country through the airport with black children.

“I alerted the officers who were at the exit booth of the airport terminal to be aware of Croats who had Congolese children. Later I was informed that the same people were there. at the exit booth,” she told the court.

Phiri said the Croats would have four children identified as Congolese nationals. She said a closer look at the children’s passports indicated that they had entered Zambia through the Sakania border post used by Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Croats produced purported adoption documents showing that the couples had not traveled to Congo but were instead staying in Zambia. They claimed a Congolese lawyer helped them adopt the children, Phiri said.

Esthele Banda, manager of a guesthouse where the Croats stayed for five days, told the court she became suspicious after seeing them with young children two days after her arrival.

“We noticed they had black children when one of the cleaners found a baby about a year old crying,” Banda said.

Banda said there was a communication barrier between guest house staff, children and Croats due to language differences.

“But after we noticed the baby was crying, we helped the couple take care of the baby,” she said, adding that she accompanied them to the airport as they were about to fly home. in their country.

Banda said a man who had booked rooms for the Croats told him the couples were in Zambia to adopt children from his foundation.

The trial continues on January 23.

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